Sunday, July 01, 2012

Cooking My Way Back Home: Creamy Stone-Ground Grits with Vermont Cheddar

There have been a couple of cookbooks that I've had my eye on for a while, and Cooking My Way Back Home is certainly one of them.  A quick flip through in the bookstore was all it took to sell me on the darn thing.  Heck, just the picture of the meatballs in the green peppercorn sauce was enough to sell me on the book.  Luckily I was able to get a copy through my cookbook testing.

Cheese grits are something very homey and comforting and incredibly Southern.  Everyone makes them, everyone except for me.  I'm still searching for my cheese grit nirvana.  Will these be it?  I certainly liked the look of the long cooking time with lots of milk.  That certainly signaled creamy to me.  I must admit that I did not go to the trouble of ordering Anson Mills grits.  Sorry, but Quaker has to cut it.  I'm tired and low on funds for the moment.

Since I have an aversion to using a double boiler unless absolutely necessary, I had to keep a close eye on these babies to make sure the bottom of the pot didn't scorch, but with the heat set on the lowest setting, I managed okay.  I certainly loved the little browned bits on the top after a run under the broiler.  But the cheese flavor was...underwhelming.  I want bold cheese flavor, not meek cheese hiding in the creaminess.  I would use around double the cheese next time.  I've kept the original amount in the recipe below, so be warned.

Creamy Stone-Ground Grits with Vermont Cheddar
From Cooking My Way Back Home by Mitchell Rosenthal

4 cups whole milk
4 cups water
2 cups stone-ground grits
1 cup grated sharp Vermont Cheddar or other sharp Cheddar cheese
¾ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper

In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine the milk and water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Slowly add the grits in a steady stream while whisking constantly.  Continue whisking for about 8 minutes, or until the grits thicken.

Meanwhile, pour water into the bottom of a double boiler, place over medium-low heat, and bring to a simmer.  When the grits are ready, transfer them to the top of the double boiler and place over (not touching) the simmering water.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes, or until creamy.

Add all but 1 tablespoon of the cheese, the salt, and a few grinds of pepper and stir until the cheese melts and is well combined.  Just before the grits are ready, preheat the broiler.

Transfer the cheese grits to a flameproof gratin dish and sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon of cheese evenly over the top.  Broil until bubbly, then serve at once.

Serves 6

No comments: